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Gag Order – Installment 7 – The Candy Jar

Jeevan occupied the prime corner office. One bank of windows gave a panoramic view of Marina Bay and the ship littered sea. The second, gave a beautiful view – on clear blue sky days – of inland Singapore, all the way to the sultan’s palace in Johore, Malaysia.

Wilona completed her meeting with Jeevan and stood up and squared her papers.

‘I saw you last night with the AG’s people,’ said Jeevan. The statement came across very much like a question.

‘Keep your enemies close,’ replied Wilona.

Her boss smirked and said, ‘You’re aware the AG’s is hiring.’

‘Yes!’ Her reply had been too fast.

‘And?’ said Jeevan.

‘And?’ she replied. The silence became heavy and she kept squaring her already neat pile of papers. She said, ‘I’ve court in a few minutes.’

‘That partnership you spoke about?’ said Jeevan and stopped. It was not a question but more of a preamble.

‘When was that? Oh, yes, it was so long ago that I’d forgotten,’ said Wilona, barely hiding the sarcasm. She slipped the papers in her briefcase and clicked it shut with a pronounced snick.

‘I know you joined us a few years ago,’ said Jeevan, his voice conciliatory.

‘Three years, two months and seventeen days.’ Her lips bowed in a smile but eyes remained steel.

‘Well, you see Wilona, it’s not as simple as it might seem. You know, it’s like any judgement call. We need to be aware of setting precedents, lest they come back to haunt us.’

‘You offered Krassi a partnership in six months, and immediately after his probation.’

‘Well, that’s what I meant. It’s not that simple. You see, Krasten brought in fifteen accounts. Eleven corporate and four high net worth clients.’

‘Effort does not count? Long hours don’t count? Testimonials from satisfied clients don’t count?’

‘Of course they do but—’

‘Oh, I get it. Krassi is a foreign talent,’ said Wilona. ‘A white face with well-scaled teeth on the website that draws in the dried old tai-tais in their dripping diamonds.’

‘Oh come on, you know me better than that. We’ve bills to pay, the candy jar to replenish and it’s you, me and Krasten who have to do it.’

‘So, it’s all about money?’

‘Of course, this is a business we’re running,’ said Jeevan, throwing open his arms to emphasis what to him was an obvious fact.

‘I know, it’s all about cost and expedience with some law and justice sprinkled on for flavour. Perhaps someone ought to educate the law professors not to fill our heads with ideals.’

‘You’re throwing back my words and repeatedly taking them out of context, Wilona. When I said cost and expedience, what I meant was—’

There was a knock on the door. Krasten popped his head in and tapped a finger on his watch.

‘Lona—court. You don’t want to keep Judge Gurshan waiting.’

Wilona grabbed her briefcase and turned to Jeevan, and he said, ‘Perhaps we pick this up again?’

‘Krassi,’ said Wilona, ‘I need to duck into the girl’s room. See you at the taxi queue.’

Wilona strutted off and, when she was out of hearing, Krasten said, ‘She wants a cut too, does she?’

‘Everyone wants to raid the candy jar.’

‘Share the candy,’ said Krasten, ‘it’ll be good for your waistline.’ He helped himself to a candy from the glass jar on Jeevan’s desk and, with a thank you smile, took off.

Jeevan, now alone, stood up and patted his bulge. He sucked it in and, unable to hold it, exhaled. He dropped heavily into his chair and reached for the candy jar. After pausing for a second, he helped himself to a candy.

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ***

*** Join me Wednesday 5th July for the continuation ***